Representative Recent Probate Litigation Cases

The attorneys in the Probate Litigation Practice Group have represented family members and individual heirs, trustees, financial institutions, non-profit organizations and creditors who need to protect their rights efficiently and aggressively. The following are a few examples of cases in which we have been involved:

Trust Litigation

SS+D represented a Trustee accused of breaching its fiduciary duty to appropriately invest Trust Funds. A beneficiary of the trust claimed that the Trustee had not invested the trust funds as directed and tried to get more than $1 million in damages, including punitive damages and attorneys’ fees. The matter proceeded to trial and the Probate Court dismissed the case. But perhaps the most significant aspect of the resolution of the trust fund case was that the Trustee was found not liable under any of the plaintiff’s theories and was awarded attorneys’ fees incurred defending the lawsuit.

Will Contest

SS+D represented the executor of an estate against accusations from his sister. The litigation included a will contest before the Probate Court, as well as a separate lawsuit against the executor personally, alleging wrongful conduct before their mother’s death. Ultimately, the Probate Court upheld the will on summary judgment and the claims against the executor were dismissed.

Guardianship/Will Contest

SS+D represented a man diagnosed with terminal cancer, both before and following his death, against claims by his estranged wife. Ultimately, his estate plan was changed to better reflect his wishes and our attorneys successfully resolved an involuntary guardianship filed by the estranged wife. Following his death, SS+D successfully defended the estate plan and the estate in Probate Court, Common Pleas Court, and Federal District Court. Using both a strong position in the litigation, as well as some creative solutions, the case was ultimately resolved with the majority of the decedent’s assets being preserved – as he wanted – for his only child rather than going to his estranged wife.

Misuse of a Power of Attorney

SS+D represented a son in a lawsuit against his sister and her daughter for stealing from his mother’s assets while his mother was still alive. The sister and daughter used a power of attorney to move assets in his mother’s estate so that they would receive those assets after his mother died. The Probate Court found that the sister and her daughter had improperly used the power of attorney and ordered the assets returned to the mother’s estate.

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